There exists within each of us a natural state of simple and open awareness in which we feel happy, light, and at peace. In contrast, the state of suffering or unhappiness is complicated. Complications take many forms, including an imbalanced lifestyle, toxic relationships, hidden emotional debts, resistance, indecision, addictions, and negative conditioned beliefs. When our life is overly complicated, we’re weighed down by superfluous things at every level.
This week we will begin to let go of the complications that cause us to suffer by cultivating a simple state of awareness. In this process, tiny steps yield big results, in part because simplicity is nature’s default position. Suffering and the complications that fuel it are unnatural; it wastes energy to maintain complexity.
As you focus on simplifying your life, make sure that your approach to the process is a loving and accepting one. Know that you are now doing all that you can do right now, and that is all anyone can do. When you stay in the moment, you have all the time in the world and whatever needs to be done will be completed in the exact right time.
Exercise: Letting Go of Complexity
Here is a practice that will help you let go of whatever is no longer serving you and return to your inherent state of wholeness, happiness, and wellbeing.
First ask yourself, “Is there anything in my life that is causing me to feel a sense of unease, discomfort, or pain?” You can choose a persistent issue that has bothered you for years or it may be something that has recently come up for you. While it’s fine to focus on a chronic physical disorder, don’t approach this exercise as a cure – we’re focusing on patterns of perception that encourage us to hold onto suffering.
Here are some of the most common complications:
Disorder: Consider your physical environment. Is your house a mess? Is your desk buried under stacks of work? Are you letting other people leave clutter and messes in the space you share?
Stress: While the pressures of life are inevitable, if at the end of the day you are unable to completely let go of the day and return to a calm, centered inner state, you are overstressed. Make a list of the major stressors in your life and brainstorm ideas to either eliminate the stressor or to change the impact it is having on your emotional state.
Toxic Relationships: Are you in relationships with people who don’t have your wellbeing at heart? Make a list of these and consider what you can do to protect yourself from their toxic influence. Sometimes setting better boundaries and practicing the tools of conscious communication can be transformative. In some cases, ending a relationship may be necessary. At the same time, focus on nurturing your healthy relationships so that they are even more loving and fulfilling.
Negativity: Health and well-being are the natural state of the body and mind. By dwelling on negativity, we prevent ourselves from living in the simple state of wellbeing. Do you often gossip about others or relish their setbacks? Do you tend to choose friends who like to criticize and complain? Do you feel compelled to watch every disaster or catastrophe unfolding on the evening news? Remember, whatever we put our attention on expands in our experience, so consider where you are focusing your time and energy.
Non-nurturing Lifestyle: Do your daily routine, diet, and overall lifestyle support your health and wellbeing? When we don’t nourish ourselves with fresh, healthy food; restful sleep, regular exercise, a daily spiritual practice such as meditation or journaling, and other mind-body healing habits, we will inevitably feel tired, out of balance, irritable, and sometimes even depressed. What aspects of your lifestyle would you like to transform to bring you greater health and happiness?
For the next week, sit by yourself for at least five minutes each day with the intention to clear away complications. In the time you set aside for this clearing, determine what area you need to focus on the most and work on that. It may be one of the complications mentioned above or a different area that is preventing you from experiencing a state of peaceful simplicity.
Start by thinking of the smallest possible action you could take – and then take it. Then choose the next smallest action, and do that. The action can truly be as small as opening your closet drawer to see if your gym shoes are inside. Then the next day you can commit to putting on your shoes, and the day after that you can decide to walk to your mailbox. Although such small acts can seem trivial, over time they help you build momentum and experience transformation.